The US Department of Justice announced the early release of 6,000 inmates from federal prisons, and more could be on the way.
The U.S. Justice Department announced that it has called for the release of 6,000 inmates from federal prisons across the country. According to a report from the Washington Post, the release is part of an ongoing effort to address overcrowding and the harsh sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
Inmates from federal prisons will be released between October 30 and November 2, with roughly two thirds heading to halfway houses or house arrest before being released under supervision. The remaining third, who are foreign nationals, will be deported following their release from United States prisons.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that determines sentences for federal offenses, recently reduced the maximum sentences for drug offenders, retroactively terminating the sentences of thousands of people who had been incarcerated under stricter laws.
In an unrelated effort, President Obama offered clemency to 89 nonviolent drug offenders and released them from federal prisons as well.
Based on the changes to sentencing guidelines, the commission guesses that up to 46,000 nonviolent drug offenders could be released from prison in the coming years. An additional 8,550 federal inmates would become eligible for release by November 1st, 2016.
Federal drug sentencing guidelines traditionally considered a number of factors including criminal history, the type of crime, whether or not a firearm was involved, and the defendant’s position in a drug organization. Under the new policies, certain infractions will count for fewer “points” towards the final sentence.
Not only will the new sentences save the federal government money, they will help nonviolent offenders return to everyday life.